GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index: Downward Trend Continues For LGBTQ People Of Color In Film
If you've ever been disappointed with the lack of Black or Brown faces as you're searching for films on various streaming platforms that reflect your experience as an LGBTQ person of color, then you already know that the lack of representation is not some figment of your imagination but a real and persistent problem in Hollywood. Since 2013, GLAAD has released the Studio Responsibility Index—a report card of sorts on the quantity, quality and diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) characters in films released by eight major motion picture studios during the calendar year.
According to GLAAD, the racial diversity of LGBTQ characters saw another significant decrease this year, with only 34 percent of LGBTQ characters being people of color, compared to 42 percent in 2018, and 57 percent in 2017. Of the 50 characters counted in 2019, 33 were white (66 percent), 11 were Black (22 percent), four were Latinx (eight percent), and two were Asian/Pacific Islander (four percent).
Among the studios, Paramount Pictures had the highest percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films at 33 percent (three films), while Lionsgate had the highest number at five films (25 percent).
Separately, GLAAD examined the film releases of four smaller, affiliated studios (Focus Features, Roadside Attractions,Searchlight Pictures, and Sony Pictures Classics) to draw a comparison between content released by the mainstream studios and perceived "art house" divisions. Of the 34 films released under those art house imprints in 2019, GLAAD found eight to be LGBTQ-inclusive (24 percent). This is a significant decrease from 35 percent (14 out of 40) in 2018. It is also worth noting that all of the LGBTQ characters counted in the subsidiary studios were white men.
GLAAD's Observations and Recommendations
In 2019, mainstream films significantly regressed in representing the full diversity of the LGBTQ community. This must change. For the second year in a row, the racial diversity of LGBTQ characters decreased considerably with only 34 percent (17) of LGBTQ characters being people of color (POC) in 2019. This is after a fifteen-percentage point drop the previous year, going from 57 percent in 2017 to 42 percent LGBTQ POC in 2018. Of the 17 LGBTQ characters of color counted this year, only four characters counted more than three minutes of screen time with just one character appearing for more than ten minutes (Pepe in Perfect Strangers). In arthouse subsidiary films, which are typically perceived to be more inclusive, the results were even bleaker. All 17 LGBTQ characters counted in 34 films were white, gay men.
GLAAD challenges Hollywood to prioritize authentic and meaningful LGBTQ characters and stories highlighting the full community, and including LGBTQ characters living at the intersection of multiple identities. More LGBTQ people of color, characters with disabilities, transgender and non-binary characters, those of different religions and faiths, body types, more queer women, characters who are asexual, and others will only fuel Hollywood’s future success.
GLAAD recorded zero transgender characters in the 118 major studio films released in 2019, a finding consistent with the previous two years.Disappointingly, film continues to lag behind other media as a third straight year passes with zero transgender characters in major releases. Meanwhile, TV has seen the premiere of FX’s history makingPose, television’s first transgender superhero on The CW’sSupergirl, and transgender men stepping into series regular roles on FOX’s9-1-1: Lone Star, Showtime’sThe L Word andWork in Progress. Yet, major studio films continue to leave trans characters out of the story.
Read the full Studio Responsibility Index here.